by Terry Duffy
Monday's Porter Town Board session was more or less routine, with non-eventful public hearings and a host of procedural approvals being the norm.
One discussion area at the end, however, proved noteworthy - that being the status of the town's cable services with exclusive provider Time Warner. Town Councilman Joe Fleckenstein, who was assigned earlier by Town Supervisor Mert Wiepert to monitor Time Warner's soon-to-expire cable contract with the town, updated the board on TW service - or lack of it - to the town, particularly when it comes to installations.
"Our contract with Time Warner Cable is due in July of this year," Fleckenstein began. "I've had a couple of conversations with the person in charge of Time Warner (installations) and she pretty much told me go 'plow dirt.' They're not going to put any money in unless someone pays for it."
Fleckenstein told the board he did a survey of the town areas not served by Time Warner and furnished a map. "Every one in yellow (there's) roads that do not have cable on them. That's 12.68 miles of roads that have houses ... of those approximately 105 houses do not have cable.
"I have repeated calls from people wanting cable ... one in particular had a quote." Fleckenstein told the board the resident had received a quote of $20,000 from Time Warner to install cable from an existing line one-half mile away to his house. "They quoted him at $20,000 to put in cable one-half mile away. That means it would cost a half-million dollars for 12 miles of cable. That is ludicrous," he said.
Fleckenstein said he'd like Town Attorney Mike Dowd to draft a letter to State Sen. George Maziarz, who chairs the State Cable Commission, conveying the town's displeasure on the Time Warner installation issue. "Something needs to be done about Time Warner helping residents who do not have cable. I know we're not the only town here. They (Time Warner) have dug their heels in here."
Currently Time Warner is the town's sole provider of cable, and particularly Internet services for town residents and businesses. Verizon FiOS does not reach into the town and residents' only other options for TV programming are satellite dishes or antiquated antennas.
"If we do not sign a contract they will keep operating the way it is ... at $20,000 (installs) per linear mile."
"Can't we form our own cable company?," asked Town Councilman Tom Baia. He noted that decades ago, one such entrepreneur in Youngstown had a short-lived operation in the area.
"There are many roads (with households) that have a breech of contact ... that are left out (from lack of Time Warner installations)," Fleckenstein continued.
"I'm not saying (Time Warner) should install 12 miles of cable, but when a resident asks for it, they should. I've had four phone calls ... these four people want it.
"What bothers me is we have Time Warner ... why is it so expensive for them to run cable?
"We need to put pressure on (Maziarz) on the State Cable Commission on this," he argued.
The matter closed with Wiepert and Town Board members in agreement with Fleckenstein for Dowd's letter to Maziarz, conveying the town's displeasure.
More to come.
In other news from the meeting:
•The board held two public hearings that went without comment regarding the purchase of two vehicles - one a $30,000 water van with funds coming from town water reserve accounts; the other a $30,000 pickup truck for the highway department with funds coming from the highway equipment reserve account. Both purchases are "piggybacked" to Erie County state purchases, said Town Bookkeeper Norm Ault. The older current vehicles would be trade-ins in the transaction. The board went on to approve both without comment.
•Wiepert said the town would like to hold a work session with the Village of Youngstown to discuss future potential involvement of the two municipalities in the proposed Town of Lewiston Recreation/Senior Center. Dowd said the town should also be considering discussing its sewer agreement package with the village, which is about to expire, as well as bonding issues related to improvements at the Lewiston water Pollution Control Center. Stay tuned for updates on both.
•Fleckenstein said he received three drainage bids, recommended the town approve a low bid from D.T. Truesdale Trucking Inc. of Porter for drainage services. Costs would be $105 per hour for drainage work and $90 per hour for bulldozer work. The board went on to approve the bid without comment.